FOR STUDENTS AND aficionados of architecture, Hong Kong offers a dizzying array of building types, with starkly different styles juxtaposed side-by-side or even within single buildings. While such diversity of architectural typologies is not surprising given Hong Kong’s unique history of competing influences, it is nonetheless unique among world cities in the sheer magnitude at which it has attempted to scale its building projects to an ever-growing population. With the largest of the city’s ubiquitous residential towers housing in excess of 10,000 people, and combined multitower estates holding hundreds of thousands in all, there are few other cities in the world that can match it in terms of sheer verticality and density.
ALTHOUGH BY NEARLY any measure the explosive growth of China’s cities in recent decades has been unprecedented in world history, the real growth has not yet even begun: by some estimates, nearly half of all construction worldwide in the next decade will happen in China. But while the sheer scale of the country’s population and infrastructure will necessarily remain part of the discussion, there are signs that the true story of China’s cities in the 21st century will lie in smaller details. Beauty and the East: New Chinese Architecture, out now in Germany from gestalten (with a worldwide release on March 30), focuses on the country’s comparatively smaller-scale architectural projects such as museums, cultural centers, monasteries, and private residences. On the whole, the projects selected for the book represent the nascent Chinese Modernism that has emerged over the past two decades, with features such as raw concrete, whitewashed walls, and floor-to-ceiling windows standing alongside much older structures and forms.